Now it's official. Both parties can focus their energies on running a presidential campaign rather than an internal competition, and if people thought the primaries were on the nasty side, this is going to be a whole lot nastier.
There are so many interesting facets to this race that we may actually need a dozen different 24-hour news networks to cover them all over the course of the next 5 months. Consider:
1. Who will be the running mate on the respective tickets?
2. What impact will the historical first of an African-American candidate have on people's decisions?
3. The generational divide: a Vietnam war hero in his 70s against a young, vibrant 40-something.
4. The Bush Factor: Obama is seeking to portray himself as the un-Bush, while McCain will seek to continue what he feels are the strong points of the Bush Doctrine.
5. More like a 4a, but Iraq is a major dividing point between these two. Obama wants out within a year, while McCain has laid out his vision of America in Iraq until the end of his first presidential term.
6. Will the message of "hope and change," which has been more rhetorical than policy-driven, trump the down-to-earth realist approach favoured by McCain?
We'll find out the answers to all of these questions, and many, many more, in exactly 5 months. Let the race begin.